Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
There is growing evidence that ongoing brain oscillations may represent a key regulator of attentional processes and as such may contribute to behavioral performance in psychophysical tasks. OFC appears to be involved in the top–down modulation of sensory processing; however, the specific contribution of ongoing OFC oscillations to perception has not been characterized. Here we used the rat whiskers as a model system to further characterize the relationship between cortical state and tactile detection. Head-fixed rats were trained to report the presence of a vibrotactile stimulus (frequency = 60 Hz, duration = 2 sec, deflection amplitude = 0.01–0.5 mm) applied to a single vibrissa. We calculated power spectra of local field potentials preceding the onset of near-threshold stimuli from microelectrodes chronically implanted in OFC and somatosensory cortex. We found a dissociation between slow oscillation power in the two regions in relation to detection probability: Higher OFC but not somatosensory delta power was associated with increased detection probability. Furthermore, coherence between OFC and barrel cortex was reduced preceding successful detection. Consistent with the role of OFC in attention, our results identify a cortical network whose activity is differentially modulated before successful tactile detection.